Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hip Hop Already A Big Part Of GRAMMY Camp® By Mia Lepp

When applying to GRAMMY Camp® many of the Campers were surprised to find out that hip hop was not a career path to choose considering that rap albums are the second most sold in the U.S. I'd like to see it added for next year's Camp because not only is it a popular style of music, it would also allow more people to have the opportunity to make it into GRAMMY Camp.

While waiting at LAX airport for our ride to Camp, the Bass track's Satarra Troutman was asked to rap with the Keyboard track's Jack Rodenburg, who supplied the beat boxing. Troutman even mentioned how at her dinner table each night they go around the table and rap four bars about their day, everyone from her grandmother to her little brother.

Giovanni Quattrochi, who is in the Electronic Music Production track, shocked everyone with his rhyming skills at the first open mic night. Quattrochi answered whether or not he would be interested in a rapping career track by saying, "I was just thinking actually when I was applying to this Camp my main interest in music is hip hop and that if there was a hip-hop track I probably would of applied for that…I was surprised that they didn't have one since it is such a huge part of the music industry."

Many of the other campers agreed with Quattrochi, like Danny Wirick from the Vocal Performance track. “I think it would be cool. I’m not a rapper myself and I don’t listen to a lot of rap music," Wirick said. "I went to GRAMMY Camp last year and we did a rap last year. We tried to do one this year as well but none of the vocalist could rap. So we definitely have a need for it.”

Almost all the Campers here support the idea of having a rapping career track since many of the Campers perform their original raps at open mic night. Sadly it is not something planned for next year, when asked why this is, the GRAMMY Foundation's Nate Hertweck said, "We don’t offer any genre specific tracks; there are elements of hip hop in every track.”

For Campers interested in rapping and being part of GRAMMY Camp there is more than one track they can apply for that incorporates elements of rap. Those include Electronic Music Production and Audio Engineering and the GRAMMY Foundation's Joe Langford believes those tracks give kids a chance “To produce their own music and rap as well.”

So while hip hop may not be a career track, but it's still a big part of GRAMMY Camp.

Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover By Allie Spice

We have all seen the guy with black clothes, tattoos, and green, spiked hair and you immediately think, "What kind of music do they listen to?" You might guess Mastodon or the Ramones; and then you hear them singing Justin Bieber's "Baby." Just cause they dress a certain way doesn't mean they fit a musical stereotype.

Though most GRAMMY® Campers who were asked questions on the idea of music influencing how people act or dress, believe the two go hand in hand. Songwriting track's Layne Putnam thinks music absolutely affects the way you dress. “Music definitely makes you who you are. You look up to the people you listen to and if they dress a certain way, you want to dress like them," Putnam said. "You want to sound like them and act like them because you look up to them and they play your music.” Music can shape and define who you are and how you act."

Vocal Performance's Brandon Martinez has experienced people's assumptions. "Once, I was going to this party and I was wearing a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Everyone was giving me this weird look and I went on stage to sing," Martinez recalls. "Afterwards, this guy came up to me and was like, 'Man, I did not expect that from you. When you first walked in here, I didn’t think you spoke a word of English.'" It is very common, when you are in your teenage years, to be stereotyped or judged. You can’t change what people think, but you can stop yourself from judging.

Subconsciously, we all judge people on how they dress, what kind of music they listen to, or maybe even both. Maybe next time you see the guy with tattoos and green hair, you’ll go ask him what kind of music he listens to. And when he says Neil Diamond or Kanye West you won't be so surprised.

Brian London Raises Up GRAMMY Campers By Alexandrea Kern

Music director Brian London came to GRAMMY Camp® Thursday to be work with Campers from the instrumental tracks as part of the guest professional day. Having worked with artists from Lady Gaga to Bruno Mars, London has come a long way in the music industry. He taught about the many responsibilities of a music director, which involves organizing the band, arranging songs, and being able to make quick changes.

London, a keyboardist from North Carolina, grew up classically trained and majored in music theater with a concentration in music at Columbia University. After coming to L.A. at 22 he worked his way up to becoming the keyboardist for Lady Gaga and Rihanna. He told the Campers of what an incredible experience it is working with Gaga. In addition to working with two of the biggest pop stars on the planet he's worked with Aly & AJ Michalka, Salt-n-Pepa, and Katy Perry.

Among his words of wisdom to the Campers was not to let the industry push you back. "A lot of times the music industry will suck the enthusiasm out of you," he told the Campers. "Don't let them take that from you." He also shared what it's like to be on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. "When you raise your hand, and the audience raises their hands, it's the best feeling you can have," he says.

Nick Jonas Gives Lessons By Allie Spice

Nick Jonas took time from his busy schedule in the studio to come visit with GRAMMY Camp® Thursday. Despite being the same age as some of the Campers, the 18-year-old Jonas used his nine years of experience in the industry to offer a lot of lessons to 12 of the students from both the Electronic Music Production and Songwriter tracks.

"What I have learned over my songwriting career so far if, if you can, soak up as much as you possibly can," Jonas said. He drew upon his own recent activities, including a trip to India for a songwriting camp. He also reaffirmed his love for music and told the Campers how he was evolving into a new place in the business.

He gave a demonstration of that, playing on piano a a new acoustic ballad he had just written a week before. And in offering feedback on demos from three of the Songwriters and answering questions he taught everyone in the room a little bit more about the music world.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lucas Frank Is A Jack Of All Trades By Mia Lepp

GRAMMY Camp®, held at the USC campus in Los Angeles, is filled with talented Campers from all over the U.S One of them is 17-year-old drummer Lukas Frank, from Santa Monica, California. At the GRAMMY Camp mini-concert held on July 10th he showed everyone how talented he was by playing in two different combos, one being a jazz piece and the other a rock piece. Each time he performed in a combo the faculty would make comments on the drumming by saying, "The drummer did a good job keeping the pace of the song where it should be and not rushing it." The following day I met up with Lukas to interview him and talk about his drumming.

ML: Hi, my name is Mia Lepp, and you are?

Lukas Frank: I’m Lucas Frank, I’m 17, and it’s my first time at GRAMMY Camp.

ML: How do you like it so far?

LF: It's good, I like it. I like the collaboration, the different tracks, and that everyone working here is pretty much in the thick of It In their field. My favorite parts are the collaborations and that's my favorite part about music in general. I think this gives you a good sense about what the real world is like and I’m enjoying my track.

ML: How long have you been playing drums for?

LF: Ten years, but I tell people four.

ML: Why?

Lucas: Ttwo reasons: one, If you say 10 years they are expecting you to sound like 10 years and that's too much pressure on me. Then the other reason Is I don't count the years when I was like seven and taking classes, I had a good teacher and I liked It, I definitely liked It but I wasn't really studying, learning about the instrument. I really got passionate about It when I was 12 or 13.

ML: What is your favorite part about playing the drums?

Lucas: Just the feeling to have like an extension of yourself, just something to hide behind.

ML: Who inspires you when you play the drums? What musicians do you look up to?

Lucas: It depends, in certain situations I'll have different inspirations. If I'm playing a funky tune I'll try and sound like my favorite funk drummer. If I'm playing a jazz standard I'll think about my favorite jazz drummer or whatever. I've never had one, but if it was to be one person who constantly inspired me it would probably be like my dad, my uncle, my grandpa, or something like that.

ML: When you're playing the drums what types of style do you like to play the most?

Lucas: I hop around or I have been hopping around, it used to be jazz. I used to be obsessed and that was like my only thing and then sophomore year I heard John Bonham play and I was like, "Damn, that's cool," so I got back into rock. I get conflicted because you want to be a jack of all trades but you don't want to spread yourself too thin and you want to be a specialist but you also like certain different genres. It's hard to pick and chose but I would say jazz, rock, alternative rock, indie rock, funk, just anything with good musicians who will kick my [butt] and make it fun.

ML: All right well thank you and by the way you were great yesterday.

Lucas: Thank you so much.

Music Journalism Comes Together At CNN By Ben LoPiccolo

Perhaps the most enchanting aspect of GRAMMY Camp® is the fact that the team works together to give students interaction with professionals in the field they aspire to be in -- basically meeting somebody that's currently working your dream job. In the Music Journalism track, we had already met a blogger, a photographer, and a publicist, three knowledgable individuals that gave us a great look at what may lie ahead for us. Today, we ventured to a place that brings all three jobs, and more, together: CNN's Los Angeles headquarters.
Leading us on a tour of CNN's offices was producer and infrequent reporter Denise Quan, who gave us an understanding on how journalism and interviews arrive on-air and online. Our improvisation skills were put to the test at the beginning when Dr. Drew Pinsky stopped to chat; we asked questions that prompted him to share his experience working in the entertainment business alongside his medical career. Later in the tour, a cameraman set up a mock interview with the class that out us in front of the camera after a weeks worth of asking questions.
Walking through the hallways of the building was such a positive experience as an aspiring journalist; not only did I get a good look at some of the possibilities I could encounter as a journalist, being at CNN reaffirmed yet again what a rewarding field it could be.

Steve Slate Engineers A Great Visit At GRAMMY Camp® By Alexandrea Kern

Steve Slate is a well-known music producer, engineer, and songwriter in the Music and Recording Industry. Working with artists from Taylor Swift to Train, he has become a popular name among the industry. Slate, who designed Pro Audio lines such as DRAGON, an award-winning dynamic processor, came Thursday during our guest professional day to visit with the Audio Engineering track and talk to some of the students about his career.

His career first started when he was the same age as many of the Campers, doing internships at recording studios getting coffee. Eventually, he worked his way up from there to where he is today. "The first thing you do, you are literally the gofer. That's what you do when you start up in this industry," Slate told the group. He learned most of what he knows by working at other studios and just observing. Being in college as well helped him picked up more knowledge about audio engineering.

His big "ah ha" moment was when he listened to the Nirvana Nevermind record. " I was fascinated by the sound of quality of that, I overlooked the music for a second, I didn't hear it as just a musical experience I heard it as a oral experience." From then on, he became interested in the recording field of the music industry.

"It's so exciting to see all these young people who are interested in one of my favorite things which is music and recording music and making music," Slate said when asked about his initial reactions on GRAMMY Camp®. "What's also fun about it is, its a completely different generation and this generation has different opportunities and different tools that I didn't have. Its cool to see how that changes things."